Fall is upon us and that means that cold and flu season is too! It’s around this time that I start getting questions from my patients about what they can be doing to help support their immunity during this change of season. Well today I’m sharing 5 ways you can support your immune system this fall including self-care practices and favourite immune herbs:
1. Herbal Immune Support:
Grab yourself a quality immune supplement or tincture that includes at the very least Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia. Most people don’t know this but there’s 10 different species of Echinacea and the two I just listed work 9x better when they are taken together versus taken alone. So be sure to look at your labels and get yourself a good quality brand from your local health food store that has both species in it.
I also love adaptogenic herbs like Astragalus and medicinal mushrooms like Cordyceps or Shiitaki but make sure that you take these under the supervision of a Naturopathic Physician and be sure the mushrooms are hot water extracted so that your supplement includes all the awesome polysaccharide so they are truly effective.
2. Ditch the salads:
Yup, you heard me say it! When the weather outside begins to shift and get colder, our bodies crave warming foods – that’s because they’re suppose to! In Traditional Chinese Medicine the rule of thumb is that when it’s hot outside the body does best with cold or raw foods (fresh raw produce ie: salads etc) and when it’s cold outside our body does better eating warming or hot foods such as soups, stews and the like. So still load up on your veggies but turn that salad into a soup full of greens or steam them to start making that shift toward more warming foods in order to support your immunity, digestion and overall constitution.
3. Hot and Cold Showers:
I know, I know – this one can be a bit unpleasant for some but TRUST ME – it works wonders not only for your immunity by helping to circulate those amazing immune cells in our blood and lymph to fight off pesky colds and flus but it also does wonders for the skin and hair (bonus!). Here’s how to take a hot and cold shower:
First method is to start your shower on hot for up to 5 minutes and then end with a cold blast for 30 seconds at the end or your shower. Alternatively if you have a bit more time or want a more constitutional treatment, alternate 2-3 minutes hot water with 30 seconds cold and then do 3 rounds ending on cold. It’s hydrotherapy at it’s finest and will leave you not only with glowing skin and better circulation but it’s also a major energizer too.
4. Dry Skin Brushing:
If you’ve never heard of it before and think it sounds a little weird, no worries! But take heed because this self-care practice when done consistently is a game changer not only for your immune health but also for detoxification and the health of your skin (it even helps diminish cellulite!).
How does it work? Well, our lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like our cardiovascular system does (aka our heart) but relies on our muscles and movement to help it circulate our immune cells all over our bodies. By lightly brushing your skin, starting at your feet and hands and working your way to your heart, you are gently assisting the flow of lymph and not only helping to circulate your immune cells supporting your immunity, you are also helping to detox your body and move any stagnation from your lymphatic system. For more details on how to do it click here.
5. Change of Season Soup:
The change of season, from summer to fall and then fall into winter is a common time when people tend to catch cold and flu bugs. The body has to keep up with and adjust to the fluctuating temperatures, weakening our immune responses to viruses in the air. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are responsible for BOTH temperature regulation as well as immune strength so when our lungs are busy regulating temperatures, they are not as focused on protecting the system from respiratory viruses.
But there’s an awesome (and tasty!) way we can support our bodies with a simple herbal formulation that uses a specific combination of 4 “tonifying” (tones, strengthens, and nourishes the body tissues) herbs called Change of Season Soup that helps our bodies acclimatize to new temperatures, mainly through strengthening the lungs and supporting the immune system. Click here to grab the recipe.
So that’s it! That’s my Top 5 Best Ways to Support your immunity this fall. I hope you find it useful and stay tuned for my top at home cold and flu remedies coming out in the next few weeks.